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Age / Gender:
19, Male
Location:
Malta
Joined:
11/4/07
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Level 25 Musician
Bronze Whistle
Ranked as Police Lieutenant

Latest News

My Musical Journey

5 days ago by Step

You know, I've been meaning to write a newspost like this for a while now. Music has become such a huge part of my life now and I thought it'd be cool to have a place where I can write up the whole story of how I became a musician, and gather all my major accomplishments and breakthroughs. Plus, I almost always use this space as a functional tool for stuff like advertising my music, announcing fan milestones, and so on, so it's nice to have a bit of variety. Needless to say, long post incoming, and you sure as hell aren't getting a TL;DR!

 


 

Right, I guess I'll start from the very beginning. My childhood was not very musical. For the first 10 years of my life or so, I had no interest in music and in fact actively ignored it. My passion at the time was for writing. I used to write these cute little poems, and I would secretly enjoy getting English essays at school, even though I wouldn't openly admit it at the risk of sounding like a nerd. Despite this disinterest towards anything musical, at 11 I actually started taking piano lessons, and not the kind that parents force their kids to go to. It was all my own decision. To this day I don't know what exactly convinced me, but it might've been watching my childhood friend Tristan play the piano and think that it'd be a pretty cool thing for me to do too. That's when my fondness towards music sparked. I was still about as musical as a potato but piano was definitely my first nudge towards changing that.

 

I studied hard for my exams, and got into the best secondary school of the country, along with a few other primary school classmates of mine, notably Echo. While I was taking piano lessons regularly, I was still nuts about writing. I started writing books at 12, a few of which were written in collaboration with Echo as well. Meanwhile, a friend of mine told me about Newgrounds and how it has free games, so I decided to take a visit. I found the flash games pretty addictive and decided to stay, eventually making an account entitled 'Supersteph54' (you can see why I got my username changed).

 

When does music come in? Well, after playing Super Crazy Guitar Maniac Deluxe 2, I stumbled upon the Newgrounds Audio Portal, and it quite certainly opened my eyes. I always thought making music was what only bands, orchestras or DJs do, and there I was, with hundreds of thousands of tracks in front of me made by normal people only a few years older than me, and some of it was actually GOOD. Perhaps inspired by this discovery, I proposed to Echo that it'd be a nifty idea to write theme songs for our books as well, to which he agreed. I searched for a music notation software, and found one called Mozart9. Using the limited music theory I gathered from piano lessons, I started writing my first ever musical notes, and sending the results to Echo for him to add instrumentation to with an old DAW called Cakewalk. Eventually, we finished our first ever track - a theme song for one of my books entitled "The Ten and a Half Heroes".

 

So that was it. I was making music. Not very good music, suffice to say, but music. We kept writing more books and hence, more theme songs, but slowly the writing came to an end as making music took over. I kept using the very limiting Mozart9 software to write my music, and while I wasn't getting very far, I didn't think to search for more music software. I then stumbled across @Blackhole12's music, in particular this one, and damn did I enjoy that track! I checked the description, where he mentioned how much his FL Studio project file kept crashing, and I thought to myself, "Hmm, FL Studio? What's this?". I did some googling, found the software, and pirated it. Yeah, I know, piracy... I mean, since then I've bought it legitimately, but at the time I had no money of my own and making music was just a foolish dream. So yes, I had FL Studio, and the funniest thing about it was that if Blackhole12 hadn't complained about FL Studio in his song description, then I would've never obtained FL, and might not be where I am today. So thank god for FL crashing. Funny how things work out! Soon after I got FL, Echo followed suit.

 

I made my first thing in FL, despite having no idea what I was doing. Of course, it sounded like crap, but everyone starts somewhere! It wasn't long before I made an arrangement of one of my favourite video game themes at the time, the Mortal Kombat theme. Despite that being a load of crap as well, it was actually my first ever track which received a truly positive response in the reviews. I was getting 10 after 10 after 10. People were favouriting me and my track. And wow, it felt GOOD. I think it was then that my music hobby took a turn forward. My mentality switched from "let's see what I can make with this complicated program" to "I've got to make something better! I have a fanbase now!". It was exciting stuff.

 

From then, it was a gradual but consistent climb upwards. I improved slightly with each new track I posted. I also joined the Review Request Club (RRC) - a small club on the forums dedicated to reviewing other people's flash and audio (no art portal at the time). I enjoyed reviewing other people's works (perhaps due to my aforementioned affection towards writing) so I felt right at home over there. I mention the RRC over here because I feel that it was a very important part of my maturing as a musician. Critically analysing other people's audio and getting responses and reviews back from the musicians behind those tracks helped widen my horizons and eventually judge my own music from a critical standpoint.

 

Soon after discovering the RRC, I discovered the Audio Forum. I posted in there now and again, though mostly naive FL Studio questions and uneducated opinions. I found it enjoyable posting there and with the opening of the first ever NGADM and me eventually becoming an audio moderator later on, I started integrating with the community a little more. I was, and still am, extremely psyched about being a regular of the Audio Forum, currently with over 6,000 forum posts. Forming part of a community of like-minded people who you actually get along with is a great feeling, even if I've never been as avid of a community member as I would've liked (I don't visit many IRC chats and don't post terribly often). Still, to this date I hold nothing but respect towards my fellow musicians and I'm honoured to be a part of it!

 

I digress. In the music department, I was still writing crappy techno, until Echo and I eventually agreed on buying East/West Symphonic Orchestra Silver after recommendations from @DavidOrr and @ApproachingNirvana and inspiration from Denny Schneidemesser's music, especially this one. It wasn't fun using that plugin with just 512 MB of RAM, I'll give you that! Still, it meant I started writing more orchestral-focused music, and kicked things off with this track. The huge leap in quality overwhelmed me, and despite having many issues with East/West due to an outdated PC and badly-coded PLAY engine, I pulled through, making more and more orchestral music.

 

I composed Legend, a middle-eastern-inspired track, to kick start 2011. I mention it because it's probably my first ever decent piece of music. I remember @Buoy telling me in his review "huh?! I don't recall you being this good?", and while I didn't make much of it at the time, I realise now why he had that reaction. Looking back, Legend was leaps and bounds above anything else I had done before it in terms of quality. Around this time, I also landed my first ever gig - $200 for around four 3-minute soundtracks for a game called Eternal Quest (which was actually pretty deep into development and I even got to play the game). I was naive and stupid, deciding not to write up a contract with the game developer at the start, and he ended up just disappearing after I finished all the music, so I never got the $200. To this day I've never heard anything about it again. The funniest part about this is that the game developer in question (who added me on MSN) literally called himself "Trickster" on MSN. He tricked me real good.

 

Towards the end of the year, a friend of mine told me about Harmony of a Hunter, a fan-made Metroid arrangement album organised by @Darrenkerwin. I was quite into arranging music, and video games (even though I knew nothing about Metroid). I contacted Darren, and he gave me a track to arrange for the album. One thing led to another, and before I knew it I became very close friends with Darren (and still am to this day), and I even made three full pieces of music for the album. This was one of the biggest deals in my music "career" ever. Harmony of a Hunter not only netted me a close friend, but exposure, tons of contacts ranging from musicians to artists to singers, and a strong liking towards Metroid and its music. On top of that, I'm now the assistant director for Harmony of Heroes, an ENORMOUS Smash Bros arrangement album set to be released by the end of this year.

 

The closer we get to the present, the more musical accomplishments I have. I made Sanctuary, which was my first ever track that truly exploded in popularity on Newgrounds (reaching up to 11th on the Best Audio of 2012 list on Newgrounds), I made my longest song ever, I played a vital role in a pretty large collaboration to remake the Okami Reset theme, I won around 500 Euro due to being commissioned to compose a soundtrack for a game which won a competition, I took part in a large school event at my sixth form as the music director, and kind of recently I had one of my tracks used in the extremely popular mobile game Geometry Dash. That last one landed me huge amounts of popularity, especially on YouTube, since Geometry Dash is top selling on Google Play and the App Store, beating the likes of Fruit Ninja and Temple Run (but not quite Candy Crush). I'm very lucky to be a part of such a well-produced game, and I've got to admit it's a pretty cool feeling when you see random people on buses or whatever on their mobile playing a game that uses your music, or even having PewDiePie play it.

 

Since the beginning, at the current time of writing, I've organised five NGADMs with Echo (on my sixth at the moment), accumulated over 600 fans on Newgrounds alone (and perhaps over 2,000 fans/subscibers overall), made about 150 pieces of music, written close to 1000 audio reviews, taken part in competitions, bought thousands of euro worth of music software/hardware, and met tons of awesome people who I consider dear friends or people I look up to/respect.

 

What is music to me now? What I can say for certain is that it's still a hobby, albeit a very time-consuming and expensive one. I sometimes ask myself whether I should make it my professional career, but due to the fact that I'm half-deaf and the fact that being a musician isn't exactly a financially stable job, I don't see that as a viable option. However, one thing is for sure; I won't stop making music any time soon. I sometimes go through pretty long periods where I regrettably don't post any music, due to being really busy a lot of the time with loads of different things, but if there's one thing I keep doing, it's coming back and writing more music. I'm proud to be a musician, albeit an amateur one who has a long way to go, and I'm excited to see what the future has in store.


Lai's Theme Solo Instrument Song
Festival Day World Song
Final Strike!! Classic Rock Loop
Windows Classical Song

Latest Playlists

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theme for robots in space Chipstep Song

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Total Medals Earned: 484 (From 76 different games.)